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Geology faculty member, 7 students complete 6-week summer field course

Seven WKU undergraduate geology majors and faculty member Dr. Andrew Wulff of the Department of Geography and Geology successfully completed a geology field course this summer, along with students and faculty from six other universities.

WKU students (from left) Courtney Elder, Melanie Newton and Kelsey Kidd participated in a summer geology field course in South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

WKU students (from left) Chris Driver, Buddy Price, Matt Downen and Whip Durall participated in a summer geology field course in South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

Students Buddy Price of Dubre, Whip Durall of Greenville, Chris Driver of Hopkinsville, Matt Downen of Bowling Green, Melanie Newton of Coxs Creek, Kelsey Kidd of Bowling Green and Courtney Elder of Owensboro studied the geology of South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming for an intense six weeks from May 15 through June 25.

The course, which is a capstone for all B.S. geology majors at WKU, emphasizes field mapping techniques to develop geologic maps, construct geologic cross sections and address some of the practical applications of these maps. Students also compose detailed rock descriptions, measure and construct stratigraphic sections, and write reports and abstracts of their work.

Projects include mapping exercises in the Bighorn Mountains, Badlands, Black Hills, Whitewood Peak, and the Absaroka volcanics, which immerse students in a wide range of geologic structures, depositional environments and rock types. Additional trips to Yellowstone Park, Devils Tower, various mining operations and other areas of geologic interest were led by national experts and extended the geological experiences and built context for the projects.

WKU has sent 40 geology students to various field-based geology experiences over the past eight years. “The affiliation of WKU with these other universities is important in demonstrating the strength of our geology program, and has opened doors for graduate opportunities and professional collaborations,” Dr. Wulff said.

These summer field courses, and an array of shorter field-and lab-based courses and experiences during the semester, are absolutely necessary for setting the context for both coursework and for professional success.

This year, the top two grades for the entire field course went to WKU students Buddy Price and Melanie Newton as WKU was, once again, well represented.

“Participation in field-based learning experiences represents is an essential part of the educational experience for students pursuing degrees in geology at WKU,” said Dr. David Keeling, head of the Department of Geography and Geology.  “Faculty in our geology program continue to demonstrate the commitment to student engagement that has contributed to the program’s outstanding record of placing graduates in professional positions and graduate schools.”

Contact: Andrew Wulff, (270) 745-5976.

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